Thank a catechist

Categories: Around the Diocese

First Parish Religious Education Week set for Nov. 3-9

Oct. 25, 2013, edition
By Brenda Kresky

It is 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night and mom and dad are getting little Johnny ready for religious education class at the local parish.

This is a common scene across the Diocese of St. Cloud because, in many places, that evening is religious education night. Approximately 150 parish leaders, 3,000 catechists and 15,000 children and youth come together for faith formation.

parishreweekThe National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) launches its first celebration of Parish Religious Education Week Nov. 3-9.

This year’s theme is “Encountering Christ Every Day” and is part of the Year of Faith.

Parish Religious Education Week, and other Year of Faith observances, such as the anniversaries of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, focus on intentional, lifelong catechesis of all baptized. Parishes are essential to this work, and it is an opportune time for NCEA to highlight them with Catholic schools who celebrate their 40th National Catholic Schools Week in January.

“Catechesis is the word used to describe the essential ministry of the church through which the teachings of Christ have been passed onto believers through the ages” (National Directory of Catechesis, USCCB, no.1).

This is done through a variety of programs and processes including parish faith formation programs, Catholic schools, Sunday schools for preschoolers, Bible studies with adults, youth groups of teens and the RCIA with those being initiated into the Catholic Church.

There are also many formats, such as Wednesday evening classes and once a month models that encourage adult participation and learning alongside the children and youth. Additionally there are a handful of programs that have release time from school during the day or after school to attend religion class. Some programs are scheduled after liturgies to encourage participants to attend Mass.

Ongoing education is an important piece in the lifelong faith journey.

Most people’s experience of formal catechetical activity is through the parish. The parish is “the living and permanent environment for growth in the faith. The parish energizes the faithful to carry out Christ’s mission by spiritual, moral and material support for the regular and continuing catechetical development of the parishioners” (National Directory of Catechesis, USCCB, no. 60).

One of the goals for this national celebration is to honor those serving in catechetical ministry.

We are especially fortunate that this inauguralyear of Parish Religious Education Week coincides with the installation of the ninth bishop of St. Cloud, Bishop-designate Donald Kettler, our new chief catechist. Catechesis is a fundamental task of a bishop’s prophetic ministry (National Directory of Catechesis, USCCB, no. 54 A).

Other key people that help make an effective parish faith formation program include: the pastor, directors of faith formation, volunteer or paid catechists, and, of course, parents who are the first and primary educators.

Parish Religious Education Week is a good time to thank the catechetical leaders for all that they do to help with “encountering Christ every day” in their own parishes.

For more ideas on how to celebrate Parish Religious Education Week go to

Brenda Kresky is the adult faith formation consultant for the Diocese of St. Cloud.